Commission raid German auto companies in cartel investigation — BMW

The European Commission confirmed today (20 October) that as of 16 October 2017 its officials carried out an unannounced inspection at the premises of a vehicle manufacturer in Germany as part of a cartel investigation.

Last month Margrethe Vestager, the EU's Competition Commissioner, said investigators are checking to see if "completely legal cooperation" between German auto companies could amount to a cartel.

It did not give any further details.

In a statement, BMW said that European Commission staff had conducted the inspection in connection with cartel allegations against five German auto manufacturers, which have been reported in the media since July 2017.

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"The BMW Group wishes to make clear the distinction between potential violations of antitrust law on the one hand and illegal manipulation of exhaust gas treatment on the other", the company said.

The competition watchdog said in July that it was investigating collusion among German carmakers in response to a tip-off after Der Spiegel magazine reported that Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen and its Audi and Porsche arms conspired to fix prices in diesel and other technologies over decades.

For the world's largest carmaker Volkswagen, the diesel emissions scandal alone has already cost tens of billions of euros since 2015. "The BMW Group has not been accused of the latter". Under its so-called leniency policy, the European Commission can reduce the fines imposed on companies if they volunteer information.

Daimler sees no need to set aside any funds for possible antitrust fines, Uebber added.

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In a related development, Daimler said Friday it had offered to provide evidence about the suspected conspiracy to antitrust investigators in return for lower penalties.

The Commission has declined to identify the original source of the tip-off, saying this is to avoid compromising its investigation.

VW offices have not been subject to European Union raids in relation to the cartel investigation, a spokesman for the Wolfsburg-based auto giant said on Friday, declining further comment.

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